Disclaimer: Please see Chapter Zero.
Author's Notes: This is a bit late, but it's a bit longer than I meant it to be, and I've got a head-start on the next chapter, too. D'you think maybe you can forgive me?
For those of you reviewers who had questions and didn't receive a reply answering them, don't worry: it all gets explained. (Eventually?)
Let me just take a minute to say 'WOW!' because this story has generated more response, appreciation and attention (not necessarily good attention, either) than all but one of my other stories. I'm really kind of amazed. It's truly a trippy feeling, haha. So thank you, dearest, loveliest readers. :D You make my day.
6 September, 1991
Five minutes before they were supposed to be at Hagrid's, Harry, Ron and Hermione left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
When Ron knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang -- back."
Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."
He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boar hound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Hermione and started licking her ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked.
"This is Hermione," Ron said, hurrying over to help her disentangle herself from the dog. Once she was free, and Fang sitting on the floor getting his ears scratched by both of them, he gestured back at Harry. "And that's Harry."
Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate, glanced up. He took in Harry's appearance, and then went back to what he was doing. "Harry Potter, eh? Might've known ye'd make friends with him, Ron. Well, sit down, all o ye."
They did. The rock cakes he served them were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth, but Harry and Ron pretended to be enjoying them as they let Hermione tell Hagrid all about their first lessons. Fang rested his head on Ron's knee and drooled all over his robes.
While Hermione frowned in silent disapproval, Harry and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch "that old git."
"An' as fer that cat, Mrs. Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang sometime. D'yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can't get rid of her -- Filch puts her up to it."
Then, at Hermione's prompting, Harry reluctantly told Hagrid about the beginning of Snape's lesson; he knew, because Hagrid thought loudly, that Hagrid liked James and Lily too much fort it to be a good idea to share everything that happened in that lesson. Hagrid, like Hermione, told Harry not to worry about it, that Snape hardly liked any of the students, just as Ron had thought.
"But he seemed to really hate Harry," said Ron, frowning.
"Rubbish!" said Hagrid, though he looked rather shifty. "Why should he?"
Harry noticed, dispassionately, that Hagrid didn't quite met his eyes when he said that. Hermione, as well, looked rather suspicious, but Ron just smiled. Hagrid started talking again quickly.
"How's yer brother Charlie?" he asked Ron. "I always liked him a lot -- great with animals. He's workin' with dragons, ain't he?"
Harry was sure that Hagrid had changed the subject on purpose. While Ron told Hagrid all about Charlie's work with dragons, Harry picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under the tea cozy. It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet. He glanced over it and raised his eyebrows, rather amused -- Hermione noticed, and snatched it away from him.
"GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST: Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown. Gringotts goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day," she read aloud, a frown forming on her face. She would have continued with the last paragraph, but she didn't get a chance.
"Hagrid!" Ron cried, who hadn't been listening, interrupting her and glancing at the groundskeeper with very narrowed eyes. "Hagrid, do you usually have abnormally large gnomes with horribly blond hair in your pumpkin patch?"
Everyone immediately turned to look out the window. Sure enough, there was someone lurking outside, some yards away, near Hagrid's pumpkins. It was not, however a gnome.
"That's only Draco Malfoy," Harry replied for Hagrid. He stared a little harder at the other boy, and realized that Malfoy was another annoyingly loud thinker. There were a good many of those, apparently. "He's been following us since we left Potions."
Hermione and Ron both stared at him, shocked. "Has he?" demanded Hermione, concerned that she hadn't noticed it.
"Wonder why the bugger would do that," Ron muttered, his voice laced with contempt.
"Let's go find out, shall we?" suggest Harry evenly, standing up. He knew Ron and Hermione would take his lead, so he didn't worry about not being followed. He turned to Hagrid, smiling honestly and saying, "It was nice meeting you, Hagrid."
Hagrid smiled as well. "Aye. Tell yer da' I say hullo," he said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. Harry's smile dropped abruptly, but none of them noticed.
Ron and Hermione said their farewells to Hagrid, much warmer on Ron's part than anyone else's, and they trooped out of the hut. The other two expected Harry to march them right over to where Malfoy was lurking, but to their surprise he simply led them toward the castle.
"Aren't we going to see what Malfoy wanted?" Ron hissed, looking aggrieved.
"Yes," Harry replied shortly, not pausing at all.
Hermione looked puzzled. "But how--"
"You'll see," Harry instructed, and kept right on walking.
Sure enough, as soon as they were out of sight of Hagrid's, Malfoy could be heard calling awkwardly for them to wait. Harry and the others turned, to see Malfoy hurrying to catch them up. He looked flushed and uncertain.
"What do you want?" snapped Ron tactlessly, before Malfoy had even reached them.
Malfoy looked down his nose at the redhead. "Certainly not to talk to you, Weasley." He faltered under the glare he was receiving from both Ron and Hermione, but Harry's level gaze spurred him to continue, "I wanted a word with... Harry."
"Well he doesn't--" began Ron, heatedly, taking a step forward. Harry's hand on his arm stopped him, and he turned to his friend, looking confused.
"Now's not a good time," Harry replied pleasantly, his expression unchanged. "My friends and I were on our way back up to the castle, as you can see."
"Oh." Malfoy's face fell, but quickly he composed himself and looked as haughty as he had the first time Harry had seen him. He lifted his lips in a halfhearted sneer and finished, "Oh, I see. Think you're too good for me, do you? Well you--"
"Not at all," Harry interrupted him. He made sure to keep his voice pleasant, because he'd heard what the boy was thinking. "You can walk up with us, if you like."
Harry was abruptly hit with two separate, distinct waves of panicked shock from both of the other boys. Hermione was simply confused, so he dismissed that as not worth worrying about at the moment. "Or," he said quickly, realizing that Malfoy was about to reject the offer with nerve-induced cruelty, "you could just try again some other time."
Malfoy was so obviously relieved that he forgot he wasn't supposed to be nice. "Yes, that'll work. Thanks."
"You're welcome," said Harry, intrigued by the thoughts he was picking up from the other boy.
"Well, ah-- Bye, Harry."
Harry nodded politely. "See you, Draco." He made sure to emphasis the first name just slightly, to show he was willing to be civil. Looking relieved, Draco hurried away from them.
"What the hell was that about?" demanded Ron, looking incensed. "Don't you know anything about him?"
"Of course I do. His father, Lucius Malfoy, is never pleased with anything he does and he gets punished more often than he deserves. His mother, Narcissa, loves him but treats him more like a pet than a son and refuses to stand up to his father on his behalf. His friends are all selected by his parents and he doesn't really like any of them." Harry raised his eyebrows at his friend. "Don't you know anything about him?"
Ron's angry glare had dissolved into a mask of amazement. "What-- how do you know all that?"
"It's a long story," lied Harry, who hadn't done anything more interesting than pick the information out of Draco's head. "We really had better get back up to the castle, it'll be dark soon."
"Yes," agreed Hermione, who'd been silent through both exchanges. She was looking at Harry with a slightly worried frown; Harry realized it meant she was still confused. "We should hurry."
He smiled at his friends and lead the way.
9 September, 1991
Harry had never believed that he would meet a person he found more intriguing than Sirius's mysterious 'Spanish' friend, but that was before he met Draco Malfoy; the boy was equal parts fear, malice, sympathy and cruelty. Unfortunately, first-year Gryffindors only had Potions with the Slytherins, so he didn't have chances to study Draco much. Or at least, he didn't until the Gryffindor first-years spotted a notice pinned up in their common room that made almost all of them groan. Flying lessons would be starting on Thursday, the 12th -- and Gryffindors and Slytherins would be learning together.
"Typical," said Ron darkly when he saw it. "Just what I always wanted. To make a fool of myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy."
Harry chuckled quietly.
"You don't know that you'll make a fool or yourself," said Hermione, trying to be reasonable even though she was horribly nervous. "Anyway, I know Malfoy's always going on about how good he is at Quidditch, but you've said yourself that's probably all talk."
"Trust me," muttered Ron peevishly, "if Malfoy's there, I'll make a fool of myself."
"No, you won't," Harry assured him, calmly turning another page in his Romanian textbook. "You've been flying since you could walk, remember."
"Yes, I..." Ron trailed off, looking bemused, and spent the entirety of their walk down to breakfast trying to remember just when he'd told Harry that. Eventually he gave up -- all of the other boys from wizarding families talked about Quidditch constantly, so it was safe to assume that he did as well -- but he'd been distracted long enough that he forgot to worry more about Malfoy, which was what Harry had intended to happen all along.
12 September, 1991
Thursday morning was bright and warm, promising to be a clear, breezy day, which though perhaps not ideal for flying lessons, was perfect for most other outdoor activities. Hermione said as much to the boys on their way to breakfast, and Ron expanded on the observation by wistfully telling them all about what he expected his sister was up to that morning back home -- starting with still being asleep and ending with a giant wooden swing on a tree behind their house.
Ron was in the middle of his oration about the delights of the Burrow when they got to the Great Hall, and only finished with the arrival of the mail, which brought with it his fourth letter from Ginny. Eager now to hear of home, he tore into it and was lost to the world for several minutes. Hermione, again letter-less, leaned over his shoulder to read it with him; he absently held it to one side and leaned away to give her more room, so that she could see it better.
Harry watched this only out of the corner of his eye. He'd received another letter from his sister Ella, and was therefore absorbed in staring at his mother's handwriting. Letters from his sister -- of which he'd had three so far -- were not one of his favorite pastimes, as they not only reminded him of his parents, but also that he hadn't yet received a single word from Sirius. Nor even Remus!
Disgusted with himself and his godfather, Harry threw down the parchment covered in sparkling purple ink and looked around the table at all the other Gryffindors cheerfully devouring their post. Something on the other side of Ron and Hermione caught his attention.
It was Neville Longbottom, who usually sat near them during meals and classes. Harry tried to include him when he could.
A barn owl had brought Neville a small package from his grandmother; the amused tone of the other boy's thoughts were what had drawn Harry's interest. "What is it?" he asked, letting his curiosity be obvious.
"Dunno yet, do I?" Neville responded. He opened the package and revealed a glass ball the size of a large marble, which seemed to be full of white smoke.
"It's a Remembrall!" he exclaimed for Harry's benefit, seeming to be rather exasperated now. "Gran knows I forget things -- this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. Look, you hold it tight like this and if it turns red -- oh..." His face fell a little, because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet, but then he laughed. "... you've forgotten something... see?"
Neville was making a show of trying to remember what he'd forgotten when Draco Malfoy, who was passing the Gryffindor table under the watchful eye of several older Slytherins, snatched the Remembrall out of his hand.
Ron jumped to his feet, half hoping for a reason to fight, and Harry surged up behind him, determined to prevent any such thing. But Professor McGonagall, who could spot trouble quicker than any teacher in the school, was there in a flash.
"What's going on?"
"Malfoy's got my Remembrall, Professor," Neville answered, still smiling a little. The Professor turned to the Slytherin with pursed lips and raised eyebrows.
Scowling, Draco made to drop the Remembrall back on the table. Before he did so, Harry interposed calmly -- but quietly, so the other Slytherins, the seventh-years watching Draco, couldn't hear him -- "Draco was only looking, Professor."
Draco's hand frozen, his fingers about to release the Remembrall, as he stared at Harry, petrified. Harry didn't look at him, instead watching the flash of surprise in McGonagall's eyes.
"I see," she murmured, glancing once more at the Slytherin. "Mr. Malfoy?"
"Like he said, just looking," muttered Draco, almost petulantly. Instead of letting the Remembrall fall to the table, he tossed it somewhat forcefully at Neville, who caught it clumsily.
Before any of them could say anything else, Draco sloped away, the hulking monsters Crabbe and Goyle soon appearing to fall in behind him. Harry was rather struck by how much they could be considered guards -- and not necessarily in the manner the rest of the students undoubtedly presumed.
"Neville," began Hermione thoughtfully, interrupting Harry's musings, "doesn't it bother you?"
"Doesn't what bother me?" asked Neville, who was holding his restored Remembrall up to the light of a nearby window and watching the sunbeams dance through the mist in its depths.
Hermione pointed, somewhat awkwardly, at the object he held. "That your gran thinks you need one of those."
The question startled Neville; he fumbled, and the Remembrall slipped through his fingers, hitting the table with a sharp ping. "Oh. Well, I'm always forgetting something or other," he explained, with a good-natured shrug, picking the Remembrall up again and putting it in his pocket, "so it's no use worrying about it, is it?"
Hermione stared at him, a tiny frown line forming between her eyebrows, and didn't reply. Tired of listening to her think, Harry shoved a plate of kippers toward her and reminded his friends to hurry and finish breakfast, else they'd be late for class.
12 September, 1991
When the appointed time for their first flying lesson rolled around, Harry, Ron and Hermione found themselves waiting among a crowd of Slytherins, as the other Gryffindors were a bit late. This might have been a problem, if Draco Malfoy -- the apparent ringleader of the Slytherin first-years -- hadn't been studiously pretending to ignore them; though rather surprised, the other Slytherins were following his lead.
While Ron and Hermione talked to each other in hushed tones and tried not to appear anxious, Harry surveyed the area that had been selected for the lesson. It was a smooth, flat lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the forbidden forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.
Also there, in addition to the Slytherins, were about twenty brooms, lying in neat lines on the ground. Harry had heard Fred and George Weasley complain about the school brooms, saying that some of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slightly to the left. He glanced around at the selection again and picked out the best one, making a note of its location.
Then the other Gryffindors showed up, a flurry of nervous, excited chatter descending on the solemn Slytherins and the uncomfortable Ron and Hermione. Harry looked up and allowed himself a smile.
Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, gray hair and yellow eyes like a hawk; Harry felt them burn into his briefly, before they darted away to take note of what everyone else was doing. Harry wasn't sure whether he liked her or not, but respect had sprung to the front of his mind the moment he saw her.
"Well, what are you all waiting for?" she barked, startling them. "Everyone stand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up."
Harry moved immediately to the broom he'd staked out earlier, the best of the lot. He found that Ron was on his right, followed by Hermione, with Neville on his left. Draco was in front of him, flanked by the hulking behemoths he had for cronies. Draco glanced backwards at the same time Harry looked forward. Their eyes met, and Harry gave a barely perceptible nod of acknowledgment which Draco returned, but neither boy smiled.
"Stick out your right hand over your broom," called Madam Hooch at the front, "and say 'UP!'"
"UP!" everyone shouted. (Except Harry, who didn't bother to; he'd quirked one eyebrow at his broom and it had flown eagerly into his hand with no further prompting at all.) Ron and Draco's brooms jumped into their hands at once, but theirs were two of the few that did. Hermione's had risen part of the way before falling back down, and Neville's had simply rolled over on the ground.
Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correcting their grips. Ron was delighted when she told Draco he'd been doing it wrong for years; but Harry heard the fear in the Slytherin's mental voice and internally winced with sympathy for him.
"Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard," said Madam Hooch. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle -- three -- two --"
But Neville and Hermione, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left on the ground, pushed off hard before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch's lips.
"Come back!" she shouted at them, but they'd already climbed several feet before they realized they'd preempted her command. Then, when they were at least twelve feet in the air, they both tried to swerve, unsure of how to return to the ground. Unfortunately, they swerved toward each other. They were still rising -- twenty feet up, at least -- when they collided. There was a loud crash, followed by a gasp of horror from those watching below. They lost their grip on their brooms, fell away backwards from each other and --
WHAM -- a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay face-down on the grass in a heap; his broomstick was still rising higher and higher, and started to drift lazily toward the forbidden forest and out of sight. Close to him was Hermione, who'd managed to grab hold of her broom again at the last moment, slowing but not stopping her descent as the broom was pointed at the ground; she lay on her back, clutching the broomstick to her chest and staring straight up at the blue sky, looking frightened.
Madam Hooch rushed forward and bent over Neville, her face as white as his turned out to be when she rolled him over. "Broken wrist," Harry heard her mutter. "Come on, boy -- it's all right, up you get."
Ron had hurried over to Hermione, and was relieved to discover that she suffered nothing more than a few bruises. He made sure Madam Hooch knew this, and then she turned to the rest of the class. "None of you is to move while I take these two up to the hospital wing! You leave those brooms where they are or you'll be out of Hogwarts before you can say 'Quidditch.' Come on, dears -- you, redhead, help the girl."
Neville, his face ashy, clutching his wrist, hobbled off with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him. Hermione followed them, Ron fluttering around her anxiously. (They both seemed to have forgotten Harry, but he didn't particularly mind.)
No sooner were they out of earshot than Draco burst into forced laughter -- disturbingly convincing, unless you could read his mind, but definitely forced. "Did you see his face, the great lump?"
The other Slytherins joined in, not having to feign their amusement.
"Shut up, Malfoy," snapped Parvati Patil.
"Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?" said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced Slytherin girl. "Never thought you'd like fat little scardy-cats, Parvati."
"Look!" said Draco, darting forward and snatching something out of the grass. "It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him."
The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.
"Give that here, Malfoy," said Harry quietly, thinking it was about time he reminded them of his presence. Everyone stopped talking to watch.
An idea flashed through Draco's mind, and he smiled-- slyly, then turning it quickly nasty.
"I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find -- how about -- up a tree?"
"Give it here," Harry insisted quietly, for the sake of appearances, but Draco had already leapt onto his broomstick and taken off. He hadn't been lying, he could fly well. Hovering level with the topmost branches of an oak he called, "Come and get it, Potter!"
Harry had grabbed his broom almost before the other boy had even left the ground.
With Hermione and Ron both off up in the hospital wing, there was no-one around who'd bother trying to stop him. Blood was pounding in his ears excitedly. He mounted the broom and kicked hard against the ground and up, up he soared; air rushed through his hair, and his robes whipped out behind him -- and with a fierce surge of joy, he remembered how it felt to do something you loved, to fly -- this was easy, this was wonderful. He pulled his broomstick up a little to take it even higher, and heard screams and gasps of girls back on the ground and an admiring whoop from someone, possibly Seamus.
Then, though he meant to chase directly after Draco, he couldn't help himself. He pulled even harder on the handle of his broom and flew straight up like a cork shot out of a bottle, feeling the world fall away beneath him. When he was more than seventy feet in the air, he pushed forward, pointed his broomstick at the ground. When he was level with Draco he pulled up again, brought himself to a smooth halt, and turned his broomstick sharply to face Draco in midair. Draco looked stunned, and his thoughts were echoing numbly with amazement.
"Give it here, Malfoy," Harry called, loudly enough to be heard by those still clustered on the ground. For a moment, Draco looked worried. Harry lowered his voice and added, "Please, Draco."
"I don't think I want to," retorted Draco, his face smoothing out. He knew what they were up to now. Then, his voice lowered as well, his lips barely moving, "I can't just give it back, you know."
"Yes, but that's all right," replied Harry, quietly. He raised his voice. "Give it here, or I'll knock you off that broom."
"Oh, yeah?" demanded Draco, managing a real sneer because he didn't really think Harry would knock him off. A part of him, though, was still worried.
Harry knew exactly what to do. He leaned forward and grasped the broom tightly in both hands, and it shot toward Draco like a javelin. To those on the ground it looked as if Draco only just got out of the way in time, but really Harry hadn't even been aiming at him, rather just next to him; he made a sharp about-face and held the broom steady. A few people below were clapping, but Harry wasn't concerned about that.
"No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy," Harry called, one corner of his mouth lifted wryly.
Draco pretended that the same thought had just struck him.
"Catch it if you can, then!" he shouted, and he threw the glass ball high into the air and streaked back toward the ground.
Harry saw, as though in slow motion, the ball rise up in the air and then start to fall. He leaned forward and pointed his broom handle down, as he had before -- next second he was gathering speed in a steep dive, steeper even than his last one, racing the ball -- wind whistled in his ears, mingled with the screams of people watching -- he stretched out his hand -- less than a foot from the ground he caught it, just in time to pull his broom up and shoot back toward the sky with the Remembrall clutched safely in his fist. He grinned; a much better showing than when he'd last done this, indeed.
Harry's heart skipped a beat, but only one. He turned back to the ground; Professor McGonagall was running toward him. He drifted down and got off the broom.
"Never -- in all my time at Hogwarts --"
Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and her glasses flashed furiously, "-- how dare you -- might have broken your neck --"
"No, I wouldn't have," interrupted Harry firmly, staring directly up into her eyes. Professor McGonagall's mouth opened and her jaw worked but no sound came out.
"It wasn't his fault, Professor --"
Recovering herself, McGonagall snapped, "Be quiet, Miss Patil --"
"But Malfoy --"
"That's enough, Mr. Thomas. Potter, follow me, now."
Harry caught sight of Draco, Crabbe and Goyle's triumphant faces as he left, walking calmly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she strode toward the castle. (Draco's carefully hidden, anxious worry followed him, but Harry could have told him it wasn't necessary.) He wondered if he could manage to get them to expel him for this -- maybe then he could go back to the continent and he and Sirius could -- but, no, it wasn't Sirius he'd be going to, it was his parents, and his sisters. Better to stay here, where he had work to do anyway.
Professor McGonagall was sweeping along without even looking at him; he practically had to jog to keep up. Up the front steps, up the marble staircase inside, and still she didn't say a word to him. She wrenched open doors and marched along corridors with Harry trotting curiously behind her. Maybe she was taking him to Dumbledore, which would be interesting -- though what Dumbledore would do about this, he wouldn't venture a guess -- things would be much easier if Professor McGonagall thought above a hushed, jumbled whisper.
Harry was just preparing to nudge the volume up on Professor McGonagall's thoughts when she stopped outside a classroom. She opened the door and poked her head inside.
"Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"
Wood? thought Harry, his eyebrows lifting to the fringe of his bangs. Did she mean who he thought she meant?
Wood was a person, a burly fifth-year boy who came out of Flitwick's class looking confused. He didn't so much as look at Harry, which the other boy was grateful for -- he was busy getting over his mild surprise.
"Follow me, you two," said Professor McGonagall, and they marched up the corridor, Wood looking curiously at her back.
Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was empty except for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.
"Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly, and he swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face the two boys. "Potter--"
Harry cut her off, saying, "Oliver!"
Wood looked to Harry finally, and did a double take. "Harry?" he exclaimed, astonished.
Professor McGonagall's lips thinned. "You know each other, then?"
"We've met. Oliver spent part of his summer holidays in Italy last year," replied Harry.
"But--" sputtered Wood, his eyes very wide. He had started staring at Harry's forehead. "But, I thought you were a Muggle! And where'd you get that... scar..."
"From Vol--" Harry began to answer, but Professor McGonagall interrupted him.
"Really, Potter, that's hardly nimportant at the moment. Since you know each other already, well... Wood -- I've found you a Seeker."
If it had been possible, Wood's eyes would have grown even wider as his expression changed from puzzlement to delight. "Are you serious, Professor?"
"Absolutely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. "The boy's a natural. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"
Harry nodded. "In a manner of speaking."
"Uh, yes, it was."
"Hm. He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty-foot dive," Professor McGonagall told Wood, pointing to the Remembrall still clutched in Harry's fist. "Didn't touch the ground, didn't even scratch himself. Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."
Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come true at once.
"Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Harry?" he asked excitedly.
"No," replied Harry, adding Not technically, to himself.
"Wood's captain of the Gryffindor team," Professor McGonagall explained.
"He's just the build for a Seeker, too," said Wood, now walking around Harry and staring at him. "I'd always thought so. Light -- speedy -- we'll have to get him a decent broom, Professor -- a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I'd say."
"I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bend the first-year rule. If he agrees, I'll talk to Potter's parents and see what they wish to do; his father should be delighted, he's the head of the Department of Games and Sports at the Ministry," said Professor McGonagall thoughtfully. "I hope they don't object to buying him a broom. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn't look Severus Snape in the face for weeks..."
"Wait," exclaimed Wood, looking astonished again, "James Potter is his father -- he's that Harry Potter?"
Professor McGonagall nodded sharply once, and peered sternly over her glasses at Harry. "I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you."
Harry was about to make a smart remark, when she suddenly smiled.
"Your father will be so proud," she said. "He was an excellent Quidditch player himself, while he was here."
Harry's face went blank.